Well what can you actually say about an opening act of such talent? Frontman Howard Jones needs no introduction what so ever, reaching a legendary status from his time in Killswitch Engage, he leads the way with his great humour for Light the Torch. The band are far more than just Howard though, fantastic riffs, bowel moving bass lines and crushing drums, what more can you expect from a former member of All Shall Perish, and current members of Bleeding Through and Extinction A.D?? with a short apology for taking so long to finally get to the UK, they waste little time in ripping the venue into a frenzy, battling his way across the stage, Howard is a man possessed and garners everyone into embrace and enjoy in the musical ecstasy. One downside to the set is how much space there still is in the venue, (seriously people, where even were you??) Those still in pubs for a pint really missed out a performance that gives most headliners a run for their money.
The only other downside is with the curse of being an opening band comes the curse of a short set list, and they close out with one that gets the voices of the crowd heard, ‘Die Alone’, lets hope they return soon and higher up the bill, especially considering their album ‘Revival’ hit its 1st birthday recently, we want more!
With an impressive opening act like that comes the challenge of topping it, and to a much fuller crowd Norma Jean don’t mess around with showing their up for it. From the instant they kick off, their stage presence and energy is high, serious harm could easily be caused by any slight knock with instruments being held high and outward at any given chance while others around put 100% effort into the headbanging. Admittedly, the name and band had gone completely under the radar before the show for me, going in completely unknown and hearing them would have me walk the other way usually as they aren’t for me, but their infectious and brazen all or nothing performance can make almost any nay sayer enjoy themselves. To say they’ve honed their craft would be an understatement, with 20+ years of service their harsh rawness is almost unfathomable, it’s easy to see how they have such a loyal following, and with a new album underway, they aren’t slowing down one bit.
With a new release, ‘I, The Mask’, In Flames are another goliath that show no signs of slowing. Their debut album recently turned 25, and that thirst for the stage is still there. Fans have come and gone in the history of the band with the direction the band has taken time to time, but it all goes out the window when they take the stage. A constant barrage of strobe lighting fills the Roundhouse from the stage, and In Flames pull out all the stops. Guitarist Niclas has been home taking handle personal issues since before the US tour, so a call up of old friend Chris Broderick to see if he was free to fill in added yet another level of excitement to the performance, seeing Chris playing second fiddle rather than lead is an odd thing to witness, nothing quite like being overqualified for the role, but it does really give Bjorn a chance to truly shine, nothing quite like mentally having to step up your game when a guitarist of such a
high calibre fills in on rhythm. His lead work is fantastic and he is one that never seems to stop smiling with joy and love for the craft he does. Bryce Paul has really grown into his spot as bassist since joining a few years back, ever reliable and prominent throughout, something that seems to be infectious as more recent addition Tanner behind the kit makes it sound like he’s been a part of the band for decades.
Anders appearance may have changed a bit over the years, but his voice never has, and it creates a time capsule when those old songs are heard. They cover tracks from ten of their thirteen studio releases, and nothing seems to go down better than hearing ‘Pinball Map’, The Clayman’s only song to feature in the set, but as a whole it is a mammoth set, 19 songs in length, and unlike most bands, they have not shied away from playing new material with ‘This is Our House’, ‘Call My Name’, ‘Deep Inside’, ‘I Am Above’ and ‘Voices’ making the cut. Despite the opinion of those that live thinking old In Flames was better, all the new stuff goes down superbly, those that didn’t buy tickets because of not being a fan of the post clayman era, fools! Damn fools! In Flames round off a fantastic night at one of the finest venues in the capital, its a night we could only wish never ended!